Duterte shows concern for the poor, signs 4PS into law

President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte once again proved his concern and love for the poor citizens of our country when he signed into law the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act or Republic Act (RA) 11310, which provides a cash transfer system for the poorest of the poor.

In so doing, President Duterte wants the financial aid being given by the government for poor families to be a continuing thing, so as to make them cope with the times and improved the health, nutrition and education aspects of their lives and their very lives in general.

Lamentably, the past administration failed to sign Republic Act 11310 so that the Duterte administration deserves to be lauded for having it signed into law on April 17, 2019 in an apparent show of love for the poor. The said landmark anti-poverty law makes permanent the 4Ps which has been driven mainly by provision of annual budgets and executive issuances.

The said law should have become such way back in 2013, so it’s just hard to understand why former President Aquino did not sign it into law back then. What could have been the reason?

If Aquino only signed it into law, so many more living below the poverty line could have been helped.

Poor Filipinos must be thankful that President Duterte won in the 2016 elections and took over the Aquino administration, if only because he did not think twice in signing the 4Ps program into law as soon as it reached his table.  Duterte may be a lot of things to his critics but when it comes to the welfare of the poor, there is no question that he will do everything to alleviate their situation.

He may be way too strict and harsh but certainly has a soft spot for the members of the poor sector and this has endeared him to the greatest majority, first of Davaoenos and now, Filipinos in general.

The recently-concluded midterm elections is a testament to the kind of support he enjoys from the common masses. As we all know now, the candidates he supported made it to the Senate race’s so-called ‘Magic 12,’  not to mention the continued high trust ratings he continues to enjoy.

Under RA 11310, the government will provide ‘conditional cash transfers’ to qualified poor households for a maximum period of seven years.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) though, may recommend a lengthier period of time for ‘exceptional circumstance’ or  specially  for those who are not yet ready to stand on their own two feet while getting help from government.

Among those qualified to benefit from the said program are poor farmers, fishermen, homeless families, indigenous peoples  from the informal sector and those living in isolated and disadvantaged areas, including those that do not have electricity yet.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had been tasked by government to review who should be the qualified household beneficiaries, using the standardized targeting system every three years.

Households that qualify will receive the following cash grants: at least P300 per month per child enrolled in day care and elementary programs for a maximum of 10 months per year; at least P500 per month per child enrolled in junior high school for a maximum of 10 months per year; at least P700 per month per child enrolled in senior high school for a maximum of 10 months per year and P750 health and nutrition grant per month for a maximum of one year.

Beneficiaries are also automatically covered by the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) and  will receive the cash transfers through government banks with the approval of the DSWD or through rural banks, thrift banks, cooperative banks, and money remittance centers accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The 4Ps was introduced during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo but with President Duterte signing it into law, the government will now have to implement the said program annually, even under all future presidents. Only a repeal of the said law can now stop its implementation.

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